Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Thursday, December 19


The focus in this race is primarily on class droppers, as the majority of the contenders are exiting tougher spots to now compete for this lower level claiming tag. The most logical player is probably No Deal, who is arguably taking the most significant class drop of all. She’s been facing significantly tougher company at starter and conditioned allowance levels over the past year, so it’s understandable that she’s been soundly beaten in most of those starts. She’s nevertheless earned competitive speed figures in most of those efforts, so it stands to reason that she can do better as she moves down to a more realistic spot. One potential issue for her, and others, is a lack of pace in this race. The Pace Projector is predicting a No Speed situation, which essentially means that it’s unclear who will benefit from a potential slow pace. Trouble for Skylar is predicted to be in front early, but she really needs a form reversal to capitalize on any potential pace advantage. I prefer the other filly likely to show speed. Letmetakethiscall drew the outside post position this time, which should be to her benefit after having to break from the rail in her last start. While she didn’t get a terrible trip in a conventional sense last time, she got the wrong trip for that particular day, as the track was favoring horses on or near the lead who stayed out of the kickback. Letmetakethiscall was outrun to the front, forced to steady down the backstretch and wait in behind runners while taking the worst of the kickback on the far turn. All things considered, she actually did well to lose by just over 2 lengths. Mike Miceli is having a strong year and he does well second off the claim, so I expect this filly to take a step forward.



The Great Johanna figures to go favored as she seeks her third victory in a row. Rather than immediately trying his N1X allowance condition following her maiden win last time, her connections instead took advantage of the open starter allowance condition for which she was eligible. She had to work a bit hard to win that day than her even-money odds might have suggested, but she nevertheless earned a career-best 97 TimeformUS Speed Figure. A repeat of that number makes her a top contender here, but there are certainly others to consider. Some may gravitate towards Paved With Gold due to her flashy 102 TimeformUS Speed Figure on the turf last time. While she has been competitive in her prior dirt starts, most of her top performances on that surface came over the summer and her recent form had tailed off. I’d rather look in a different direction. My top pick is the recent maiden winner Am Impazible. This filly had shown some potential in her career debut on Nov. 1, when she greenly dropped back in the early going while reacting badly to kickback. Despite losing so much ground, she nevertheless battled back through the lane to pass over half the field. Ultimately, that 6-furlong distance was probably just a bit too short for her, and she appreciated an extra half-furlong last time. Now she has to stretch out in her first start against winners, but there are some positive indicators that she can improve further. She’s bred to handle added ground since her dam won at a mile, and that dam is a half-sister to millionaire dirt router Royal Posse. Furthermore, Kelly Breen does very well off maiden wins, going 5 for 8 (63%, $4.97 ROI) with last-out maiden winners on dirt over the past year.



I’m Fine may go favored here as she makes her first start on the dirt. This filly’s Ellis Park debut was fairly eventful. She broke about two lengths behind the field, was hustled up into mid-pack position early, got shuffled back on the far turn, and then came again in the lane despite having to alter course. Given that she finished third despite such a journey, it’s fairly obvious that there’s some ability here. The question is whether she can transfer that form to a new barn and make the transition to dirt. Both of her siblings to race showed a preference for turf, but her second dam Caressing is a dirt stakes winner and she produced Travers winner West Coast. I’m using her prominently, but if I’m taking a horse trying the surface for the first time, I’d rather go for a bigger price with Topaz Bride. This filly also debuted on the grass, doing so against New York-breds in September at Belmont. She showed good tactical speed before fading in the lane. Yet, what intrigues me about her is that she didn’t appear to be terribly comfortable traveling over the grass that day and her pedigree does contain plenty of dirt influences. Tiznow is a capable dirt sire, and her dam was primarily a dirt horse. Furthermore, her second dam was a multiple stakes winner routing on dirt, even taking down the 10-furlong Ladies over this track. We saw Mike Maker win with a big price trying dirt for the first time last week, and this filly could deliver a similar result. Others to consider include second time starters Imprsstheprofessor, who should stretch out after closing well in her debut, and My My Michelle, who showed some promise last time but needs to step forward.

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